By Hans Ebert

I guess it was watching “E.T: The Extraterrestrial” and reading about (director) Steven Spielberg’s childlike vision of an alien who lands on earth, is discovered by a group of children and who simply wants to go “Home” was what really made me appreciate someone with that ability to think like a kid, capture their innocence and produce a movie that appealed to all ages.

“E.T” led to other movies about the keen sense of adventure and imagination in kids- “The Goonies”, for example, and more “coming of age” movies plus television series like “The Wonder Years” and “James At 15”.

Of course long before Steven Spielberg, there were greats like Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, the Keystone Cops etc. And though they brought laughter, their movies were more acrobatic genius and creative pranks than tapping into the imagination of children.

There were child stars like Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney and the L’il Rascals, but again, this was cuteness sold to adults. The success of these child stars probably had many parents and stage door mothers pushing their children where they didn’t want to go. Not unlike K-Pop was a dark side to that cuteness.

There was Walt Disney and all the fairy tales he brought to movies and to life and, like McDonald’s, Disney became a worldwide franchise.

Though having worked on the McDonald’s business when in advertising, I never thought too deeply about the partnership between Disney and those Golden Arches. It was purely big business becoming bigger. It was marketing. It was the innocence of imagination becoming, well, maybe not “polluted”, but contrived led by that clown Ronald McDonald and his McDonaldland friends. Ronald was creepy.

Then came “Sesame Street” from the Children’s Television Workshop and the genius of Jim Henson.

Jim Henson had been working with sock pockets for many years just as Shari Lewis had with Lamb Chop, and which led to sunny days and leaving one’s cares away to Sesame Street.

I still believe that sitting down with her and introducing my daughter when young to all the colourful actors and edutainment and helping to open her mind to imagination taught her a very different world than any school could. There was wonderment in her eyes. It taught me much about myself- and that special way children picked up on things adults never could.

Kermit, The Count, Miss Piggy, Big Bird, Oscar The Grouch, Bert and Ernie and the special human guests and the songs made it okay to be different and how this is a colourful and colourless world that really is a Rainbow Connection.

“Sesame Street” led to “The Muppet Show” which was Don’t Miss Television on a Saturday night for the family. Having guests like Elton John and others made complete sense. It was a very real unreal world that worked as one.

The 10 best Muppet Show guests – THE GUARDIAN

When Jim Henson left this world way too soon, his passing affected me as did John Lennon being taken away from us. He was the person I most wanted to interview simply to understand how he came up with ideas- and what inspired him.

One day while on the monorail and on the way back to the hotel after a day out at Disneyland, my wife spotted him and his crew filming at one of our stops. We missed out on getting to see him. A few weeks later, he was gone.

These days, is there anything to stir the imagination of children under the age of ten? Or is access to social media their only playground and which exists online?

Are they growing up too quickly and how much interest are parents taking in setting an example?

Sometimes, the answer is staring right back at you. Maybe all the time spent wading through the rubble and clutter to find the diamonds, makes one lose their way? Or take unnecessary detours.

All the good stuff mentioned above is still here. It’s still relevant. And it’s fantastically and magically new to a completely new generation of children.

It really should be “restored” and made available on a new online delivery platform. The same goes for that music back catalogue gathering dust somewhere along with the great movies and sporting stories.

This is where there’s a need for a new Indiana Jones- someone to rediscover all this and build a team of experienced and passionate marketers around him.

If simply recycling what corporate committees think is breakthrough, better stick to producing gifs and calling them “boomerangs” and trying to pull the wool over the eyes of those who have that third eye.

Bring on the revolution- a peaceful and inspiring evolution that morphs into a brilliant future for our children.

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